The students looked down at the hot dog on the plate in front of them. It wasn’t lunchtime and, quite frankly, it didn’t look particularly appetizing. Snickers and speculation filled the room until the instructor solved the mystery: they were going to learn how to perform intradermal injections!

Practicing procedures on hot dogs was just one of the many activities that 57 high school students participated in during one of the two week-long sessions for the summer nursing camp hosted at the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing. They came from near and far, including Northern California, Texas, Idaho, and Arizona, to get a firsthand look at the profession of nursing. Ten need-based scholarships were awarded.

It was a packed agenda. Students got a firsthand experience in preventing hemorrhage from trauma, nursing simulation, emergency and age-appropriate assessments, and triage skills. The lift team from the hospital at UCI Health showed them how to use a lift to move patients. During the moulage session added in week two, students used special effects makeup techniques to simulate bruises, bleeding, and wounds.

Feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive!

The best part of the Camp was the simulation experiences and the injection activities.

All instructors! Food! Cooking class! Nursing panel-getting to know nurses on a personal level. Learning on how nursing is improving to focus on individualized care.

The best part was making friends and working together. I loved the injections and simulation. They were the most real things.

I loved the coding simulation and every time we got to do something hands on. I also really liked the bleeding simulation dummy. And the CPR certification was amazing because it made me feel accomplished and that I got something valuable out of this.

I attended your July Session for the Nursing Camp in Summer at UCI. I just wanted to say that I loved attending this program and wanted to give a big thank you to everyone who was a part of hosting this program. I would not have been able to attend unless I got that scholarship, so I thank you for giving me this opportunity! 

And one student even shared her experience on her YouTube channel Health by Hannie.

Program coordinator Leanne Burke said “we are highly aware of society’s increased need for nurses in coming years and decades, and we want to be proactive and innovative in our leadership to fill that need. This early exposure to nursing can make a big difference in whether a student chooses to apply directly to a school of nursing out of high school.”

Students also obtained applicable skills they could take home with them including CPR certification and emergency preparedness – which came in handy for many students when the area experienced a tropical storm two weeks later!

“One former student shared that the night she received the CPR certification, she was at dinner with her family when her father began to choke, and she was able to quickly give him the Heimlich maneuver and saved his life!” Burke added.

In addition to the hands-on nursing and safety experiences, students attended a culinary health cooking instruction, learned stress management using tai-chi, and listened to a nursing career panel that showcased the different options available for individuals wanting to pursue a nursing career. The camp was staffed by school faculty as well as current students (BS and MS), alumni and volunteer nurses from the medical center, which provided ample opportunity to ask lots of questions!

The Nursing Camp in Summer was introduced in 2017. Since then, many students have applied and been accepted to nursing programs. This summer’s camp sessions were the first in three years as the program was on hiatus from 2020-2022 due to COVID and the building of the Sue & Bill Gross Nursing and Health Science Hall.

“We are hoping to do more camps next year and are even considering a camp for middle school students,” added Burke.